Achieved iconic status with two of the best rock albums of the ’90s, remaining popular despite a more experimental, electronic direction.
Essential Album: Kid A (2000)
2. Arcade Fire
Montreal indie rockers who topped charts and won awards with their intense, anthemic, multi-layered vision of alternative rock.
Essential Album: Funeral (2004)
Passionate, heart-rending British pop group whose sweet melodies and swooning lyrics made them one of the biggest bands of the new millennium.
Essential Album: A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002)
4. The Strokes
New York City band that ushered in a new era of indie rock in the 2000s, with spiky guitars, chugging backbeats, and self-assured songwriting.
Essential Album: Is This It (2001)
Respected British alternative band that combined progressive rock, glam, electronica, and Radiohead-influenced experimentation.
Essential Album: Absolution (2003)
6. The White Stripes
Detroit duo that walked the line between blues-rock primitivism and arty minimalism, unexpectedly becoming kings of garage rock in the new millennium.
Essential Album: Elephant (2003)
7. Arctic Monkeys
Energetic Sheffield indie rockers whose witty songwriting and British slant on punk-pop made them one of the most respected bands of the new millennium.
Essential Album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
Critically acclaimed Chicago band initially connected to the No Depression neo-country scene, later emerging as an experimental-pop powerhouse.
Essential Album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
9. Animal Collective
Innovative and acclaimed indie band with a penchant for experimental electronics, childlike campfire folk, and a warped take on Beach Boys harmonies.
Essential Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
10. Modest Mouse
Jagged, often melodic, lo-fi post-rock, the indie rockers slowly burbled from cult sensations to unlikely alterna-pop stars.
Essential Album: The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
Kings of the millennial post-punk revival, channeling Joy Division’s moody guitar work, synth riffs, and dour vocals.
Essential Album: Turn On The Bright Lights (2002)
12. Sufjan Stevens
Critically feted indie pop singer/songwriter who wandered the musical highways of Dylan’s Old Weird America.
Essential Album: Illinois (2005)
13. The Flaming Lips
Ever-evolving indie band led by Wayne Coyne that became critical darlings for their discordant, psychedelia-tinged garage rock.
Essential Album: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
14. Queens Of The Stone Age
Highly acclaimed hard rockers from the California desert who update old-school riff rock without overloading irony or slavish imitation.
Essential Album: Songs For The Deaf (2002)
15. The Killers
Las Vegas band whose inspired retro-rock earned them a lasting following in the 2000s.
Essential Album: Hot Fuss (2004)
16. The National
Heartfelt and quietly anthemic indie rockers whose sound takes in alt-country and chamber pop.
Essential Album: Boxer (2007)
17. Sigur Rós
Icelandic post-rockers whose uniquely dreamlike, slow-motion sound was popular with shoegazers and filmmakers.
Essential Album: Takk… (2005)
18. Fleet Foxes
Acclaimed indie band from Seattle with an earthy, harmony-rich sound influenced by American country-rock and British folk-rock.
Essential Album: Fleet Foxes (2008)
19. Bon Iver
Indie songwriter from central Wisconsin whose sparse, introspective folk with occasional orchestral touches made him a critical sensation.
Essential Album: For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)
20. Green Day
Snotty punk revivalists with multi-platinum sales during the mid-’90s, then critical respect (and more sales) for their rock opera American Idiot.
Essential Album: American Idiot (2004)